Congresswoman Escobar Joins Congresswoman Speier to Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Require the Department of Defense to Clean Up Toxic PFAS
Washington, D.C., June 29, 2021
Congresswoman Veronica Escobar (TX-16), Vice Chair of the House Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee, and Congresswoman Jackie Speier (CA-17), Chair of the House Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee, were joined by a bipartisan group of Representatives in introducing the PFAS Filthy Fifty Act, legislation directing the Department of Defense (DoD) to test for and remediate per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) at U.S. military installations and State-owned National Guard facilities. The bill would establish a priority list of the fifty installations with the highest levels of PFAS contamination and invest $10 billion to clean up PFAS at and around contaminated sites. Senators Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY) and Alex Padilla (D-CA) introduced similar legislation in the Senate.
“Servicemembers and their families have been susceptible to the exposure of toxic chemicals while serving our country at home and overseas,” Congresswoman Escobar said. “It is unacceptable that the Department of Defense has not established any strategy to clean up the chemicals we know are harmful and can cause severe damage to human health. Our servicemembers put their lives on the line to protect us and it is our duty to protect them. I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing the PFAS Filthy Fifty Act to hold the Department of Defense accountable and ensure PFAS pollution is remediated.”
“For decades, servicemembers, military families, and nearby communities have been exposed to toxic PFAS chemicals – known to cause liver damage, thyroid disease, and cancer – due to the military’s heavy use of aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF),” Congresswoman Speier said. “Despite past readings of astronomical levels of PFAS in the groundwater at military installations, the Department of Defense has yet to establish cleanup plans for many of the bases with the most dangerous levels of contamination. Our servicemembers and their families can’t wait any longer for the military to do what’s right and clean up the mess it has made. Congress must act and pass the PFAS Filthy Fifty Act.”
“Although the Defense Department has known that toxic PFAS have been building up in the blood of service members and residents of military communities for decades, the PFAS plumes flowing from these facilities have not been cleaned up,” said Scott Faber, EWG senior vice president for government affairs. “Congress needs to give the Defense Department clear marching orders: Clean up PFAS pollution. Thanks to the leadership of Congresswoman Speier, the Defense Department will now have the deadlines needed to protect our service members, their families and their neighbors from these toxic ‘forever chemicals.’ ”
PFAS have contaminated at least 2,000 water supplies across the country, with some of the highest levels of contamination detected near military bases. DoD is a significant source of PFAS pollution due to the use of AFFF beginning in the 1960s. Yet while around 700 military sites have known or suspected PFAS contamination, DoD has yet to begin long-term cleanup at a single installation. At this rate, it could take more than 30 years to remediate bases and surrounding areas, subjecting servicemembers, military families, and nearby communities to prolonged exposure to toxic chemicals.
The bill text is available here.